Identifying and chastising the four types of people who slam their weights to the ground

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Every now and then, I need to release a rant. Today is one of those days.

Last week, I was doing what I usually do, heading to the gym to get a lift in before going out for a run.

Then, from the corner of the gym, the thunderous “Boom! Boom!” The unmistakable sound of large dumbbells being dropped on the floor.

Not long after, right next to me, a dude is working some sort of exercise on the cables. When he’s done, he just drops the bar that the cable was attached to, leading the plates on the other end to crash down loudly.

I cannot begin to tell you how much this irritates me. Of all the bad habits in the gym, this one is the worst. If I, with my modest 175-pound frame, can lift and then haul 80- and 90-pound dumbbells back to the rack without a resulting cacophony, why can’t everyone else?

Carelessly dumping the weight to the ground or on the stack when you’re finished shows a lack of consideration for anyone else around you. I know I’m not alone in thinking this.

So why do people do this? Who are the types of people who do this? Let me enlighten you…

The “Look at Me! I’m strong!” lifter. This guy is the dude who grabs the big dumbbells or loads up the bar with a bunch of plates. He’ll breathe really loud and grunt a bunch. Might even yell out a bit to psyche himself up. But if that does not get your attention (and satisfy his urge to have everyone around him know he’s in “beast mode”), then there’s always the tried and true tactic of dropping those heavy weights on the ground with a triumphant thud.

Note to this guy: We probably already know you’re lifting something heavy. We just don’t care all that much. And we care even less when you drop your weights. If you’re strong enough to hoist that thing, you’re strong enough to put it down peacefully without all the drama. Please stop.

The tough guy. A lot like the guy above, the tough guy varies somewhat in that he doesn’t necessarily want to impress you with his lift. Instead, he forcibly lets you know that he doesn’t care about the weights, the gym or you. It doesn’t matter if that loud clang cracks a plate on the machine or breaks the welds on a dumbbell. Tough guy doesn’t care. He walks away from his dropped weight (and resulting crash) like The Rock walks away from fiery cinematic explosions. Consequently, this is also the guy who throttles his Harley in the subdivision or peels out of the grocery store in his bad-ass ’97 Mustang. In his mind, perception is reality, and he wants you to perceive that he’s gangsta-tough.

Note to this guy: You don’t look tough. You look like a douche. And like the fella who drives the overly blinged-up sports car or the giant tricked-out pickup, your gym behavior indicates you’re probably making up for shortcomings in, er, other areas.

The “one rep too far” guy. I appreciate this dude’s effort. Not wanting to slack, trying his hardest to squeeze out every ounce of effort he can to make progress, this guy is going to burn it out until he can’t lift any more. And when muscle failure arrives, he just can’t help himself – or resist gravity. All his strength gone, the weight wins – and falls loudly to the ground.

Note to this guy: Chances are, if you’re dropping the weight because of muscle failure, you might be doing it wrong. And however tired you are, you should still have enough control to rest your weight carefully down. Don’t let your fatigue dictate your behavior. If you lose control of your weight, something’s wrong. And it’s not fatigue.

The injured guy. This dude drops the weight because, in mid-rep, something pops. Or tears. Pain ensues, and the lift must be stopped. This sometimes means dropping the weight. This is understandable. And for the most part, you get a pass. Injuries happen. But…

Note to this guy: Injuries don’t happen in a vacuum. Maybe your training style makes you prone to injuries. Or perhaps your eyes were bigger than your pecs and there was just too much weight in your hands. Or possibly your form sucks. Whenever an injury occurs, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing to make sure this doesn’t turn into a chronic thing. I’m not saying all injuries are the fault of the lifter. Sometimes freaky stuff just happens. But in most cases, your injury is related to something you did – or did wrong.

Weight rooms can be noisy places. It’s hard not to make noise when you’re deadlifting, or performing Olympic lifts. But for the most part, you can lift right, lift under control, and lift with some consideration to others training and to gym owners by not dropping your stuff. It doesn’t make you look strong, tough or dedicated. It makes you look rude, douchey and out of control.

So stop already!

Bob Doucette

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25 thoughts on “Identifying and chastising the four types of people who slam their weights to the ground

  1. The one who gets me the most is the ‘look at me I’m strong’ lifter who isn’t actually that strong. Lots of noise, lots of banging, not much lifting. If you’re going to be a clown in the weights room, at least be lifting heavy!

  2. This is an evergreen topics and represents one of the more frequent complaints heard, (no pun intended), in gyms around the country. Most of the guys doing this, (I’ve never seen a woman do it except accidentally), aren’t even that big and, if they are, its all upper body with no commensurate level of leg development. So its just an attention getting activity though they fail to realize that the only attention they are getting is negative. I’ve never known a woman who decided to sleep with a guy on the basis of his slamming weights. Even in the few hardcore gyms I’ve been in most of the noise comes from exertion not from dropping or slamming weights. They are far too serious about their workout to consider engaging in cheap attention getting stunts. Now, if you are in a hardcore gym and you do slam the weights you damn well better be putting up some major poundage or they’ll laugh you right out of there.
    But in the chain gyms or university gyms its something you have to endure – especially at the university gyms wherein hordes of frat boys like to peacock around in wife beaters and ling shorts (to hide pathetic leg development) slamming weights to get people to look at them. I really wish gym owners would take a harder line against these posers. On occasion they do but not frequently enough.

      • Slamming weights in any gym is usually frowned upon although there may not be policies in place to “punish” such behavior. Advocates of weight slamming/dropping claim that such activity is essential to achieve the best gains but I call bulls**t on that. You can get an incredible work out without slamming a single weight. Go to a hardcore gym and you’ll see what I mean – guys are dead lifting and squatting heavy, heavy weight and they are doing it with control and intensity. Sure, on occasion you’ll hear a heavy thud or screams but I would give these guys a pass because they are in a different league altogether. But the average guy in the average gym who feels it necessary to slam weights is a poser seeking attention. The trouble is that many of these average guys think that doing 18 sets of curls in the squat rack makes them hardcore. I saw that YouTube vid of that guy throwing dumbells against the wall in response to the lunk alarm. He is the perfect example of an average guy who thinks himself to be “hardcore”. He had a beer gut and long shorts (probably to hide noodle legs). That’s why he was mad – because people in the gym don’t see him like he sees himself.

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  4. We have a guy who slams weights in an apartment clubhouse gym. I do not claim to be a heavy duty weight lifter but I have definitely lifted in my day using various types of gyms, and I know that as a general rule you do not need to slam down weights so hard that the floor, or in our case the ceiling because the gym is on the second floor, feels like it is going to collapse. I agree that this excuse is just bull sh… and is used by wannabes who aren’t the real deal in the serious weight lifting world. My husband is an ex college athlete and is now a professor who teaches and conducts research in exercise science. He agrees that there is really no excuse for the slamming of weights. It is just outright rude behavior. In our case too – it is doubly bad because the purpose of an apartment clubhouse isn’t exactly the same as a serious weight lifting gym. To the guys and women who are the “real deal” – I think you’ll probably agree with me even though I am a woman. News flash for those who do slam weights as a matter of course throughout their workout…you really don’t look sexy or more attractive or more macho. As was stated in other comments on this site – you really are just a douchebag and you could pose a safety threat to others!!!

    • Concur! There is no excuse. Lift with control, and lift with an amount of weight you can control. Deadlifting and oly lifts might get a little loud, but even then, don’t slam. Do your due diligence and keep it under control. Great take!

  5. I’m so happy to read this and know I’m not the only one who thinks this behavior is incredibly annoying!!

    Yesterday there was a skinny guy with tights on under his shorts and was releasing the cable too soon and slamming the entire weight stack down. After the third set of this (He was about 5 feet from me), I came over to him, tapped him on the shoulder, waited for him to remove his headphones and told him it was very rude, and asked him to stop it. He glared and turned away from me. I then said, “if you can’t control the negative, maybe you need to lift lighter”. He just glared at me again. He came back and did a 4th set and slammed again, but not as loud. I moved on to cardio, then did stretching for 20 minutes and he was still at the same machine, but since I’d left the area, he was back to slamming harder. Other big guys came in and started slamming weights, but were actually lifting heavy. (Still annoying). I think people learn from others’ behavior that it’s ok.

    I feel for the guy that he was obviously desperate to put on some size. He put in over 8 sets on the tricep extensions. Form was awful, but all I cared about was the annoying banging!

    I hope other men actually say something to these guys who do this. I don’t think they listen to women, thinking it’s something women just don’t understand.

    • There is a guy just like this at my gym. No tights, but same behavior. He mostly lifts on machines, and clangs those weights down hard after performing terrible sets. Unfortunately, he’s been doing this for years. And not just coincidentally, he has made zero progress in terms of lifting and fitness.

      What a dude like the one you described needs is either a trainer or a “mentor” whose weight room credibility is beyond reproach. Unfortunately, money and/or pride is likely to get in the way of that for most of these offenders.

      In your last paragraph, you mentioned that guys like that don’t listen to women. Unfortunately, there is some truth to that. I think that is slowly changing as you see more women killing it in the fitness realm. But for some meatheads and other thick skulls, they let faulty perceptions cloud their judgment.

      All that said, it never ceases to amaze me how often people will exercise so much futility in the weight room simply because they won’t learn, won’t behave, and won’t show a little humility when it comes to correctly assessing their actions, programs, capabilities and results.

      Thanks for the great comment. And keep rockin’ the grind!

  6. I had the unfortunate experience of “The Tough Guy” today at my local apartment gym. Any concrete advice on how to deal with these people?

  7. You realize this isn’t a cry for attention, it’s just the result of heavy lifting. After doing a large set of curls with a certain dumbbell, you may not be able to carry it to the rack and lift it to its place, so you drop it so you can lift it again. And with deadlifting, if you are deadlifting a heavy weight over and over again, you may not have the ability to lower it slowly and softly to the ground, so you drop it. It’s not them saying, “Look at me.” It’s just what you do when your muscles are fatigued and unable to softly place the weight.

    • I agree with you on any barbell exercise off the floor — deadlifts, Oly weights, etc. Those are noisy lifts when the weight gets up there. But if someone my size (I ain’t that big) can do a set of incline presses with 80s or 90s, and then walk those suckers back the the rack, so can just about everyone else. And curls? Nah, man. Same deal with machines. No reason to crash the plates. But that’s just one gym rat’s opinion.

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  9. There’s a reason why they place Impact Mats stripped across all benching stations, Everytime I Drop a weight; I make sure no ones is in front of me and I drop it foward, and One thing need to get through you’re Thick Skull. IT’S NECESSARY TO DROP HEAVY DUMBELLS TO PREVENT INJURY. YOU THINK I CAN PUT DOWN 110LBS LIKE A FEATHER? DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I RATHER BREAK THE FLOOR THAN MY SHOULDER’S. GO TO A DIFFERENT GYM IF IT BOTHERS YOU SO MUCH, IM SURE PLANET FITNESS IS MORE CATIERED FOR YOU SNOWFLAKES. HA!

    • I’m not sure if I should take this comment seriously (or the hilarious url), but having used dumbbells at that weight, I can tell you, I’ve never dropped them. Not once. Only noise I make with weights is doing deadlifts.

  10. I am so glad I am not the only one that feels this way. I enjoy taking LesMills classes; one of the classes entails weight lifting, and it never fails that the instructors and almost everyone in the class carelessly drops there weights between each portion. I have undergone heart issues as a child, and every time a weight drops I feel I am about to have another arrhythmia attack. It is disappointing that the instructors don’t even try to set a good example. I have found a love for lifting, and I have enjoyed running and HIIT workouts previously. I can not enjoy this class and get the full benefits with the constant slamming; which is immensely intensified by the mirrors that surround the entire room. Gyms should put an official end to this. The gym has become my second home, but I am sure the majority of people don’t belong to them because of reasons like this.

    • It sounds like you might want to shop around for another gym. If folks are that careless with equipment — in a group class setting, no less — then there is a pride of ownership issue.

      Some lifts are inherently noisy: Deadlifts and Olympic lifts come to mind. But a group fitness class should be a pretty controlled affair.

  11. Can I tell you how gratifying this is? I’m a relative noob having joined my gym just back in March and now and then you get some schmuck slamming weights or what I saw today… some dude leaping out of a machine while letting the weight drop with a clang. I thought it was a fluke until he did it again. First off, I haven’t seen a machine in there that instructs you to leap out of it, and second, he’s gonna break it. Please, I’m just trying to tone up and get some cardio so I don’t freaking die, let me do it in peace.

    • Wow. I understand there are some exercises that get noisy. Barbell lifts off the floor like deadlifts, Olympic lifts, etc. But not a machine. Ever. And you’re right — if people are abusing the equipment like that, they can snap cables, break bindings and even break weight plates. That’s a person acting out from ego, and someone at your gym needs to talk to that dude.

  12. So by definition to grow muscles they need to be torn down to rebuild bigger. If you do not go to exhaustion you will not gain much muscle if any at all. You argue that someone going to exhaustion must be doing the workout wrong or should save a little in the reserves to let weights down easy? You obviously are a weekend warrior in the weight room and know very little about weight lifting. A person should go to exhaustion if they want gains, thus making it pretty hard to put it down gently enough for planet fitness or a library. it’s a gym deal with it. Be like you going to a gun range and complaining that some guy was shooting a rifle that sounds like a howitzer, AT A GUN RANGE. Just another person in the world offended by something they do not fully understand. Maybe those of us that go to exhaustion and cant stop weights from making noise just have bigger balls than you

    • Start out with a couple of things. First, you DON’T have to go to exhaustion to see gains. Reps to failure can be useful, but they are not necessary. Anyone who has done research on training plans and programming can tell you that. Otherwise, you’re talking about a lot of bad accidents under the bar doing squats, or injuries doing Olympic lifts.

      Second, yes, there are some lifts that are loud. Oly lifts and deadlifts come to mind. But if you’re sitting on an incline bench cranking out dumbbell curls and drop the weights, no. That’s just dumb. Same for any machine where weight stacks are used.

      If you’re habitually dropping weights, it’s not a problem of exhaustion. It’s probably more of a problem of habit.

      Last, gun ranges are loud. And that’s a bad analogy, particularly when most people at a range wear ear protection. Because, you know, gun ranges are inherently loud.

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